If I’ve learned one thing about myself as a writer, it’s that I’m impatient. I want to write faster, I want to edit faster, I want to get feedback faster, I want … well, you get the idea. So I get impatient with my Muse when she doesn’t seem to be cooperating with my “I want” schedule. I tend to forget she could be working behind the scenes.
Frequently, usually when I’m driving or in the shower, a single line or a great story title comes to me. When I’m lucky enough to get those written down before I forget, I file them in my Opening lines and Titles folder. Sometimes, when I need a jumpstart for a story, I browse through that file to see if something jumps out at me. It’s nifty when I realize an opening and a story title fit together.
Such was the case for the short story I finished a couple of days ago. I had matched the two many months ago, and even made a couple notes, but never actually started the story. I thought about it once or twice through the months, and then forgot it again. But it came to mind when I wanted to write another story last month.
As is my habit, I opened the file, read the first sentence, then closed my eyes and waited for the scene to play out. Before long, I’d typed the first three paragraphs, but nothing more came, so I closed the file, expecting to get back to it later that day. Then I got distracted with the process of the new cover design for Brevity, and didn’t return to the story for three weeks.
A mental flash of the main character in the story is what reminded me to get back to work on it. I saw an angry woman, an indignant woman—a woman scorned. I sat down at the keyboard and she took over. Within a few hours, I’d written the draft and did a first edit. Fun stuff. I mean, this rejected woman cleverly redeems her self-respect—what’s not to love about that?
The ease with which the words flowed, once again, demonstrated that my industrious Muse had worked on the story while I was off doing who knows what. My advice? When your Muse tosses you a line or title, pay attention. Something’s probably in the works.